News: The Archive
Member Spotlight Interview
Samaa Haridi, Partner at Hogan Lovells
Congratulations on being our inaugural spotlight member, we are very, very excited to have you be apart of this initiative. I wanted to start off by asking about your background. Based on your biography, it seems like you have lived in several different countries. How do you think that shaped your outlook and career path?
Thank you very much for having me, it is an honor and a pleasure really to participate in this with you. My background is Egyptian. Both of my parents were born and raised in Egypt. I however was born in Switzerland, and grew up as you mentioned in a number of countries, which include Switzerland, Belgium, Morocco, Senegal, France, and of course Egypt. That is a function of my father’s profession, which required him to travel. Looking back at it now, after having a number of years of distance from that period of my life, I realized how lucky I was to have the chance to grow up in so many different cultures. In some instances, the cultural and linguistic difference between the various countries I lived in was quite stark and the adaptation process from one country to the next was abrupt. Frankly, I was not enjoying it as a child. Looking back at it though, I feel so grateful that I had the opportunity to be exposed to so many different environments, and I think it has played an immense role in how I was shaped as an adult, and more importantly, my capacity to adapt, which has helped a lot in my career and also in my personal life.
I can only imagine. Do you think there was anything from your background that specifically drew you to a career in the legal field?
Actually, not really. The story of how I became a lawyer is quite peculiar. I can’t suggest that I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer, that’s not at all the case. What I was finishing up high school at the French school in Cairo, I really wanted to continue my university studies in French. I have always been very attached to the French culture and the French language. But at the time, there were no available options in Cairo to go to college and study anything in French. It was all in English. And so, I was destined to go to the American University in Cairo, which is where many students in Cairo with a bit of an international education attended. But luckily for me, the year I graduated high school, the Sorbonne University decided to open a branch in Cairo that would permit students to study law in French, in Cairo, and I immediately jumped on it- not because it was law, but because it was just an opportunity to get a Sorbonne degree in French. It could have been anything- I would have gone. That’s why I say it’s a peculiar path to how I became a lawyer. And so that’s what led me to go to law school
It’s interesting how often times, one path leads to another, and we don’t realize where life is going to take us. And so when you were in law school, was there anyone or any experience that had a very significant impact upon you?
The episode that led me to go to law school actually ties into the point about any person or experience having a significant impact. When I found out about the Sorbonne opening in Cairo, I went to seek further details, and I met with a man who- to this day - is my mentor. He was a very young French professor, who was sent by the Sorbonne as one of the people who to be in charge of Sorbonne Cairo. I sat down with him, and in a matter of twenty minutes, he managed to completely convince me that this was a great opportunity for me and that I should go for it, and accordingly - I went for it. And it was largely this individual, Mr. Lucas, who convinced me that I should try this path - and boy was he right. He then became my professor in that program, and he truly is the person to whom I owe what I have become today. He guided me, he mentored me, he helped me, he sat numerous hours with me in Cairo, and it is = thanks to him that I was able to succeed. Eventually, there were not enough students who graduated from the Sorbonne in Cairo to justify continuing it. I graduated first in the class, and thanks to him, I obtained a scholarship from the French government to pursue my studies at the Sorbonne in France. And incidentally, he is actually here in New York teaching at Columbia Law School on a one-year exchange fellowship now.
That seems like a very fortunate experience, and a very fortunate mentor. Relatedly, was there ever a specific point during the time you were doing your studies at Sorbonne or during your LLM studies or otherwise, where you realized you wanted to enter a big law firm or private practice?
Not so much. With every passing year though, I gained clarity on the area of law that interested me most. In France, you go to law school right after high school. So I was 17 years when I started law school, and I studied overall for a period of 6 years. With each passing year I became more and more interested in the field of international arbitration. And it really cemented during my fifth year, during which time I was very fortunate to attend one of the famous international arbitration programs in Paris, under the leadership of someone by the name of Professor Lagarde. That program was very geared towards international arbitration. During this time, I realized this is what I want to do. Then came the realization that I would most likely practice international arbitration as a counsel at a reputable law firm.
For our law student membership, do you have advice on specific types of programs or opportunities that you think would help law students gain exposure in their interested practice areas?
I would say this is very much a factual question, depending on what every person is interested in. I’m very active in the recruiting efforts of my firm, Hogan Lovells, so I meet students very often. When they ask me this question, my response is framed on what that students interests. When I have a student say they are really interested in international arbitration, nd ask what classes should I take, I often suggest they take conflict of laws. A lot of what we do is intuitive, but some aspects of our practice are not intuitive, and I would put conflict of laws in that category. So, I would say, as much as possible (because its hard to know what you want to practice at the stage of a student), try to get an understanding of your area of interests and then focus on taking classes that are relevant to those interests. The other thing I would say is that it’s important to keep an open mind. It’s important to realize when you’re starting your career that there are so many possibilities, and that your mind may change, you might find new interests. And sometimes, the opportunity to do what you want to do is not going to present itself.
Do you recall any experiences where this happened to you?
I wanted to do international arbitration – I didn’t get to do that when I started my career. No firm would hire me because it’s a very small competitive field. I applied all over the country, and think of my profile- French educated Egyptian law student with an LLM. At the time, it was not that easy for an LLM to find a job in the US. I was offered a position as a litigation associate at a firm in LA. For a period of about three years, all I did was US domestic litigation. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to do that – I learned so much from that experience. I learned skills that I would not have learned if I had started immediately practicing in international arbitration. And all I can think of is thank God for the people who trusted me and believed in me at that firm and gave me job. So, I’m looking at this not from the perspective of “I didn’t get to do what I wanted to do.” Rather, I’m grateful. But then I was also focused. I knew I wanted to do international arbitration. I eventually had to move firms, because my firm did not offer international arbitration. But my point is that, you can know what you want, and you can get to where you want sometimes by taking a circular route, and that circular route might bring a lot of benefits that you might not realize. You have to keep an open mind.
Were there any specific opportunities when you were doing domestic litigation that you sought to put you in a better position to transition into international arbitration, given how niche of practice area it is?
Because, the learning curve was very steep for me having not been educated substantially in the US, the first thing I focused on was being a good litigator. It would have been disingenuous of me to do anything else. I had the job; I had to prove myself at that job. So no – for my first few years, I really had to learn and do well, and impress the people who believed in me and hired me. So I focused on being the best that I could be in what I was hired to do. After two and a half years, I had gained a lot of exposure. I had done depositions and oral hearings. After I started getting the hang of what I was doing, I then decided to refocus myself again on pursing my dream in international arbitration. I asked to be transferred to NY. When I came to NY, I started speaking to partners who were pursing this type of work. I became active in all sorts of organizations, bar associations. I tried to get speaking engagements, I published. I worked really hard to find a way to catch up, because those few years when I wasn’t in that field- I had to somehow make up, but I did. It was a lot of effort, both internally and externally. Its internal in terms of exposing yourself, making sure the partners doing that type of work know you, think of you, and its external because you want the community at large to know you.
Could you elaborate further on the distinction between internal and external work. Also, when you were in the field of international arbitration, being a woman of color, how difficult was it to prove yourself in what many would say is a male dominated culture?
For the first several years of my career, particularly when I was an associate, I did everything that I could to focus on just doing a good job, and to focus on succeeding both in internally and externally. Internally, perhaps is easier to grasp- you do good work. You follow up, you’re an integral member of the team, and you work hard to be indispensable in any matter that you work on. In addition to that, not to be neglected – there is an element of being likable; being present, being a team member, having a personality. At first I didn’t think it would be a good idea to joke, but it took me a while to realize that it’s okay to be yourself, and to own your culture and your identity. Those are things that did not come to me naturally, especially because in all of the environments that I worked, I was usually the only Arab person, only Muslim lawyer, one of few women on teams, especially the more senior I got. So I just worked really hard to do well, and to be liked. I never allowed myself to believe I was at a disadvantage because of my origin or my religion or my background – even if it were true, I didn’t want to be someone who is focusing on the negativity. Sometimes, if you look in that direction, you’re setting yourself back. I truly believe, if you work hard, and you believe in yourself, and you’re a good person, you will succeed. And I have been fortunate enough to work in various firms, including the one where I am today, where I felt that those qualities are rewarded regardless of your background. Yes – it is harder on many levels when you’re a minority, and it’s hard to have certain conversations about a religious holiday or cultural event that no one around me can relate to, but I don’t let that stand in the way in my ability to succeed.
That seems like a very positive attitude. Can I also ask, what do you feel are the most challenging aspects of your work and also the most rewarding
As far as the most challenging aspects, in the practice of international arbitration, it is being ready constantly to wok with clients and witnesses and opposing parties that are from a new different culture, and to try to understand it and work with it. It is challenging, but is also thrilling. And it is the reason why I do what I do; its tough but I love it. It literally keeps me on my toes. For instance, right now, I’m working with Japanese clients. The approach to contentious proceedings in the Japanese culture is quite different. Understanding their culture that is not as confrontational and aggressive, but still working with them to be in a position of defending their interests forcefully are the type of dynamics I find very interesting and challenging. Relatedly, having to learn a new industry depending on the case can also be challenging. You have to learn very complex disputes – I could be doing a mining case on one day and a construction case the next day. You do use experts, but you’re also expected to understand the underlying industry in what you’re doing. There is of course also a personal side as well, the work life balance. I have two children, who are now seven and ten – and it hasn’t always been easy to juggle being a partner at a law firm and being a mother to two young children in NYC with a fulltime working husband who is also a lawyer. I find that adopting a flexible approach and being where you’re needed most at all times works for me. I need to have the flexibility to decide where I’m needed most and to make the decision accordingly, as to whether I’m going work late or if I’m going to go home and see my children before they go to bed. I certainly wish I could spend more time with my children, but by adopting this system, I have the ability to be with my children when I’m needed, I rarely miss important events. This has worked for me.
That goes to back what you were saying about gaining that flexibility from your previous childhood. I also wanted to ask you a few questions about MuBANY before we leave. To start, how long have you been a member of MuBANY?
As long as I can remember. I came to NY in 2003. I don’t remember how I learned of MuBANY, but I did some digging around, and I thought wow this is a fantastic group, especially coming from LA, and also coming shortly after September 11. In LA, I was a litigation associate when Sept. 11 happened. One of the associates in my group stopped talking to me when it happened. I was the only Arab, only Muslim in the office. And he wouldn’t talk to me. It was hurtful; he was also a decent friend. And to their credit, the head of litigation at my firm came to me. They apologized to me on behalf of that associate because they had learned on their own that he maybe said some comments. And you know, he never spoke to me again after that. It was the only very impactful experience as a Muslim that I have had in my practice.
I’m very sorry you had to go through that. Given these types of experiences, what do you think are the greatest strengths of having an organization like MuBANY?
I think it’s really important for the Muslim community to come together. My sense is that there isn’t a lot of Muslim attorneys overall- I would imagine we are in the minority. When you start looking at big law- we’re even more in the minority. If you start looking at partners that are Muslim in big law, you are counting them on the fingers of one or two hands. It is very much for that reason, among others that I feel a responsibility as a Muslim women who is a partner at a big law firm to help and to do whatever I can for the community that I can, to be available for them and to be resource for them, to encourage more of them to follow this path and believe there is room for them in big law and that they can be successful. That is really why I am doing this, and that is why I am involved with MuBANY.
Through your involvement with MBANY, has there been any experience or people that you’ve met that have had an impact on you?
Sure, I will mention a couple people. Adeel Mangi is a remarkable individual. He is inspiring; he is such a wonderful person and role model for the younger generation. Look at the work he’s done, for instance, the mosque that’s being built in New Jersey. He’s done amazing work for the Muslim community, he’s in fact inspired me to take on some of that work with him, and so we’re now teamed up in some of that legal work on a pro bono basis. I would also mention Saira, who is a wonderful person, such an amazing personality and she similarly has this selfless willingness to give her time to the community and to others. I have had the chance to spend some time with her, and I think she is such a great leader for this organization. I am thrilled we have women like her that are selfless and generous with their time to be involved and engaged in their community.
How do you think MuBANY has supported its members and engaged in important issues in the community
I think a lot has been done and is being done. I particularly appreciate the efforts to host events for students and younger practitioners to talk about career related discussions tips to succeeding in the in-house world or in law firms. Any types of informative events for the younger generation are truly invaluable. They may or may not be geared to the Muslim community. It’s just that offering those resources to these younger folks, and giving them an opportunity to talk and ask questions in a safe environment – this is one of the most important issues. I think we also have an obligation to express our views when we feel like we are being misjudged. We have a responsibility to raise awareness about issues impacting the Muslim community. For instance, I was working on a number of years on a pro bono matter on the surveillance of Muslims, and sued the NYPD for their surveillance practices. These are type of important responsibilities we must engage upon. We are the most likely candidates to take on that work and so our mission should include the promotion of such pro bono work as much as possible to help our community and raise awareness and information, and have a voice.
I absolutely agree. This has been such a pleasure speaking with you, and on behalf of MuBANY, we thank you so much for your time and support and inspiration.
We are pleased to announce the candidates running in MuBANY's 2018-2019 Board Election.
Directors (5 positions)
Sania W. Khan
Nilufer R Shaikh
As a reminder, below are the key dates in the election process.
-- Monday, May 21, 2018: Deadline for new Members or lapsed Members to submit Membership Forms in order to vote.
-- Tuesday, May 22, 2018: Ballots emailed to members.
-- Tuesday, May 29, 2018: Deadline for submitting ballots.
CANDIDACY STATEMENTS FOR EACH CANDIDATE
I serve as counsel to New York City Public Advocate Letitia James. I am her principal adviser for health care and technology/telecommunications. In addition, I serve as a trustee of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System ($65B AUM) and as a member of the Audit Committee for the City of New York.
For the past three years, it has been a privilege to serve on the board of MuBANY, first as a board member and for the past two years as treasurer. In this time, I am proud to see our organization grow beyond numbers. We have built and expanded partnerships with other bar associations and leaders in government, as well as advanced legal positions in important court cases across the country. MuBANY has also supported programming for attorneys across various disciplines. We live in unique times that present new challenges but also opportunities. As president, my goal is to build on our successes and leverage the strengths of our organization. Accordingly, I believe we should: 1. support the advancement of Muslims to the City and State judiciary, 2. assist members who seek to become partner or advance the corporate ladder, 3. promote members to take leadership roles in the City and State Bar Associations, and 4. continue to build coalitions and take on legal/civic initiatives. There are those who seek to make Muslims the other and call us a threat, I can think of no better way to countering that than to support these and other initiatives. I ask for your support.
As a long standing member of MUBANY, I have been actively involved in the development of the organization and it’s members since I joined the organization. I had the distinct privilege to be the Gold sponsor of MUBANYs inaugural Gala and supporting sponsor for the subsequent Gala. My support is not limited to the financial support of the organization but also in the firm belief that our members are the backbone of the success of this association. When I was a solo practitioner I’ve looked to aide, advise, and mentor many young MUBANY members who sought to open up their own practices. (I was once too a young attorney who sought advice from MUBANY members (Hyder Naqvi) whom I will be forever grateful too.) Not only through assisting them with legal work but also by leading a presentation on legal marketing. I’ve been privileged to represent the organization recently at the Convention on the Status of Women at the United Nations which I believe was a fantastic experience. My goal in becoming a part of the board is to bring my diverse experience in building organizations, life coaching and my legal background to benefit the association as a whole. As an association representing Muslims Attorneys within New York, our reach must extend to many Muslim attorneys who have yet to become members. Perhaps some do not identify with the label. Our need to diversify what it means to be a member of MUBANY must encompass those that do not necessarily identify or practice the faith as well. We must be as inclusive as the inclusion we seek in society. There are many attorneys who are Muslim but do not want to associate with a Muslim Bar: this must change if we are to be a strong knit unit within New York. I’d like to encourage events to cater to the diversity of thought. Muslims are not a specific type and we must cater to all those that are conservative and those that are liberal: this leads to understanding, tolerance, and respect. Our community outreach efforts must include efforts which are both charitable and awareness oriented. We must also create a stronger mechanism for referrals to be spread within the members. Economic growth of our members is the growth of this organization: I am a product of this. I’ve gained many clients through MUBANY and equally I have sent many clients to my fellow members. We must help our members in their career growth: I’ve sought candidates for hiring purposes from this organization as well and I’ve seen many postings from various third party firms and entities. We need more fundraising efforts to hold more events that are not only educational but also those that mix with other organizations and Bars. Our efforts need to extend to the NYSBA, and local bar associations so that we develop the organizations reputation not only amongst the members of other Bars but also with Judges and the Court system. The organization has made amazing strides since it’s existence through Asim, Atif, and Saira and it is my hope that I can build upon their successes for the benefit of us and our community at large.
Dear Friends, It is with great excitement that I request your support in becoming the Vice President on the MuBANY board. Over the last few years, I have had the distinct pleasure of meeting many of you while being the MuBANY Secretary. During this time, I experienced the amazing spirit of MuBANY, while helping drive our organization forward in various ways. I have been passionately involved in establishing our MuBANY footprint while assisting our community with coalition-building and helping with several initiatives, events, and our overall commitment to social justice. I have also served on the annual Gala committee every year and am thrilled that our galas are bigger and better every year. Being involved with such a wonderful group and community has inspired me to serve this organization further and am confident I will continue to fulfill this role with honor. I have been involved in several non-profits and community-based initiatives and have several years of leadership experience, serving on various organizations' boards. I guarantee that with my personality and my experience I can continue to serve as an asset on the MuBANY team. Hard work, organization, determination, humility and strong interpersonal skills are values I hold dear to me and ones that will continue to make me a key member of the board. My goal is to grow our membership base by the inclusion of more law students, public interest attorneys, and non-traditional attorneys. I want to heighten our community feel and community involvement by not only having more events, but also having diversity of events and engaging with other organizations and groups that we have not in the past. Most importantly, as a public interest attorney and lifelong community service advocate, I foresee more community service initiatives to give back to our New York community at large. My hope is to continue to expand on the excellent work done before us by the current board. I assure you that if I am elected as Vice President, I will personally make sure your voice is heard and your presence is felt in this amazing organization. I hope it is in my fortune to serve you as Vice President and humbly request your support in this election. Sincerely, Sayeda Abbas
I have been involved with MuBANY for the past several years, having served as Director and In House Chair. I hope to have your vote for Secretary, and look forward to continuing to serve this community. As Secretary, I hope to improve the website and make it easier to stay informed of the association's events and activities. I also plan to begin a newsletter to highlight MuBANY's activities. Additionally, I hope to build on past efforts to increase MuBANY's membership and partner with new and diverse bar associations to create relevant and exciting programming. MuBANY has grown over the past decade from an association for Muslim attorneys to a voice representing the legal needs of the Muslim-American community. I would like to continue building upon that growth and help MuBANY and its members progress further.
I am delighted to submit my candidacy for Treasurer of the Muslim Bar Association of New York (“MuBANY”). MuBANY has been instrumental in shaping my legal career and I would be delighted to continue giving back to the organization and the legal community by serving in a leadership position. I have been involved in MuBANY for eight years, first as a law student and then as a board member for five years. I played an instrumental role in creating the first scholarship fund to be awarded to a Muslim law student in New York. I was also a member of the gala committee for two years and helped organize MuBANY’s first and second galas. At the first gala, I spearheaded the Silent Auction, which raised enough money to support the scholarship fund for two years. In addition, I helped create the Women’s Committee of MuBANY, which focuses on specific issues faced by Muslim female attorneys. As the Women’s Chair this year, I organized a panel event with four incredible accomplished and impressive Muslim women from different practice areas (academia, government, in-house and big law) who spoke on a range of issues from muslim identity at the workplace to self-branding for promotion. In addition to the scholarship, gala, and women’s committee, I’ve helped with planning our staple events such as our annual iftars, social mixers, and annual general meetings. It would be a wonderful opportunity to continue serving on the board of MuBANY as Treasurer. Thank you for considering me as a candidate. Personal Background Director and Legal Counsel, Bank of Nova Scotia (2017 - Current) Associate, Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy LLP (2015- 2017) Assistant Vice President and Counsel, BNP Paribas (2012-2015) Law school: University of Notre Dame (2012) College: New York University (2009)
My name is Mavara Agha and I am asking for your support for my bid for MuBANY Board of Director. I am currently a litigation associate at Sullivan & Cromwell. This year, in an effort to become more involved in the broader New York legal community, I had the distinct pleasure to serve as one of the co-chairs of the MuBANY Gala Committee. In this role, I helped planned the Third Annual Awards Gala and Reception and this experience was rewarding for a number of reasons. First, our team secured four esteemed awardees to honor at the Gala: Neal Katyal, the National Women’s Law Center, Khadijah Sharif-Drinkard, and Muslim Advocates. We were especially proud of the fact that three of the four speakers were women and together, the group of awardees represents a diverse slate of individuals across ethnicities, faiths and sectors. Second, I felt honored to work alongside a devoted team of individuals. Through our weekly calls and various planning sessions, I felt inspired by how much can be accomplished when a hard-working team aligns around a shared vision. I also learned more about MuBANY as an organization as many of the Gala Committee members are also current elected board members. Third, with over 250 attendees at the event, I felt privileged to be part of a diverse community of attorneys and was renewed with the desire to push the organization forward. I am grateful to MuBANY for giving me the opportunity to support the Gala this year, as well as an opportunity to learn more about the wonderful work of its members. If elected as a Director of the Board, I would love to pursue some of the following goals to further serve the membership: 1. Create skills-based programming for our members. We all love going to panels and talks which host inspirational speakers; however often times, I can personally attest to walking away from such events feeling a sense of dissatisfaction in not fully realizing the role I can play to advance a certain cause. To alleviate this potential dissonance, I would like to create more programming that equips our members with tangible skills and resources to enhance their impact. Some examples would include workshops on assisting women who are suffering from domestic violence or sessions on know-your-rights trainings. I would hope that our members could then scale such events at their own places of work and multiply the impact of this highly-needed programming. 2. Enhance the relationship between law firms with public interest work. In light of the current political and social climate, it is imperative that we employ an all-hands-on-deck approach to tackling some of the issues that require urgent legal attention. Law firms currently have an abundance of resources but often aren’t able to connect said resources with the right projects and are, consequently, missing opportunities to have tangible impact. I would like to spearhead initiatives which link law firms with pro bono opportunities on pressing issues such as immigration, national security, religious discrimination and prison reform. 3. Strengthen connections with the New York and City Bars. Although MuBANY already has very strong ties with other minority bar associations, I believe we can take advantage of more opportunities to strengthen our ties with other professional legal organizations as well. To that end, I would intend to work in parallel with current committees at the New York State and City Bar Associations on a variety of projects such as co-sponsoring programming for both groups’ members, planning social events so our members can network directly with their members, or even pushing for the inclusion of our members on their committees. 4. Establish mentorship programs for transitioning attorneys. In addition to supporting current mentorship programs that MuBANY already has in the works, I would love to focus specifically on establishing mentorship pairings for attorneys who are looking to either transition from one sector to another, or in certain instances, for attorneys who are interested in doing non-legal work. Switching jobs can be challenging, and switching sectors – whether legal or not – can complicate issue. Thus, connecting attorneys to other talented members in our community would serve to make the process smoother and be valuable for all parties involved. I intend to fully dedicate myself to implementing the aforementioned goals, as well as work to ensure that the Board is properly serving the needs of the MuBANY membership in a high-impact, yet resourceful way. Thank you in advance for your consideration.
I am a foreign trained lawyer, recently graduated from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law with a Master of Law in general legal studies. I am an NY Bar exam candidate. I am currently working at Data-Core Systems Inc. as an Assistant (Legal) and dealing with business immigration matter for this IT company. I have been actively involved with MUBANY for past three years. I have a keen interest for helping community people actively with my knowledge, connection and expertise that’s why I choose to run for Director Position. Even in my community people are always coming to learn about services offered by lawyer’s community for example, immigration, family matter, corporate matter, and even how to make heat complaint, it just nice to be able to share knowledge and help others through the MUBANY, a significantly growing community based law organization.
I am interested in a director position with MuBANY because I am interested in contributing my skills, experience, and network to the organization and its members. I have been a member of MuBANY for years and am interested in taking on a leadership role with the organization. I have attended MuBANY events and contributed as a speaker at a recent round table discussion about succession and leadership held by the women's committee just last month. Subsequent to this discussion, I have had conversations with some offers regarding potential ideas for growth of the organization and I am interested in bringing those ideas to fruition if given an opportunity to serve as a director. I believe that my previous professional experience as a teacher, law clerk, prosecutor, and leader with the Arab American Bar Association and Network of Bar Leaders could benefit the organization and its members and will allow me to share with the organization the network I have formed in my years of professional practice. Further, I am currently being considered for appointment to serve on various diversity committees and am scheduled to provide diversity trainings at my place of work and other bar associations. I would be happy to bring these trainings and these networks to MuBANY as well. If you are interested in learning more about my educational/professional background, feel free to access my LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/yasmin-dwedar-esq-a159a88/. I would be honored to have your vote to serve as director for the organization.
My name is Amin Kassam and I am currently the Chief of Staff and Senior Counsel at Bloomberg L.P. where I am responsible for the operations of the Legal and Compliance Department along with litigating and advising on issues relating to new media, technology, privacy, and intellectual property. I am also a member of Bloomberg’s Diversity Council and, in that role, have played a key role in raising awareness about issues facing Muslims at Bloomberg. For example, I led efforts that resulted in the Company signing onto a Supreme Court amicus brief challenging the Trump administration’s travel ban and, most recently, I hosted Bloomberg’s first ever lunch and learn panel discussion on Ramadan. I t has been my privilege to serve on the MUBANY Board for the past year and I hope to be given the opportunity to serve again. As a Muslim lawyer for the past 17 years, I believe I bring a breadth of experience that is unique to the Board having spent much of my time practicing as one of the first or only Muslim lawyers at the law firms and federal clerkships where I started my career. Indeed, living through 9-11 without the support of a community of Muslim lawyers was lonely and challenging and it continues to drive my desire to help make MUBANY an even stronger, dynamic, and more influential bar association. At a time when the rights of Muslims in the United States are under tremendous threat, I believe that it is critical that we build coalitions and draw upon allies in order to support our efforts to protect the civil rights of all Americans. As a result, in the past I helped MUBANY to host a joint Eid celebration with the New York Civil Liberties Union, a moderated discussion with the Metropolitan Black Lawyers Association on Why Black Lives Matter to Muslims, a panel on Out LGBT Asian lawyers and judges with the Asian American and LGBT Bar Associations, and a new initiative with the City of New York to provide pro bono mediation services to Muslim communities throughout New York City. If elected, I hope to continue this work and create new programs that build bridges across communities, undertake initiatives to protect the rights of Muslims and other marginalized communities, and further enhance diversity and inclusion within MUBANY. Thank you for your consideration.
My name is Sania Khan, and I am running for a Director position with MuBANY for the 2018-2019 term. I am an Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Bureau at the New York State Attorney General’s Office, and serve as the Muslim Communities Liaison for the Office. My work in these roles has focused primarily on litigation challenges to the travel ban (“Muslim ban”), the rescission of DACA, and the addition of a citizenship question to the U.S. Census, as well as generally working on the Office's Religious Rights Initiative. I served as a Director at MuBANY during the 2017-2018 term - and during this term, I was able to work on a variety of events and intiatives. I worked on developing MuBANY's amicus efforts, served on this year's gala committee, and have most recently been assisting in the launch of MuBANY's newsletter (coming soon!). If given the opportunity to serve as a Director again, I would further these efforts by ensuring that MuBANY's newsletter is timely and consistent (meaning less emails on the listserv!), focus on ways to further streamline MuBANY's operations - to ensure that MuBANY runs as smooth as possible, and create an initiative to assist mid-level attorneys seeking pipelines to leadership positions in the judiciary, public and private sectors - across the board. I would also continue my work on MuBANY's amicus initiative, and to the extent possible, will aid in MuBANY’s engagement with the public sector. I intend to be resourceful and dedicated in executing this vision. Thank you for your consideration.
I am interested in joining the MuBANY board in order to contribute my efforts towards developing a thriving and impactful Muslim legal community in New York City. I have enjoyed my involvement over this past year in MuBANY events, from collaborating on the MuBANY Gala Committee to organize and execute one of MuBANY’s signature events in May to participating in a women’s roundtable discussion on professional success. Throughout this past year, I have been consistently impressed with the quality, collegiality and passion of the individuals who work hard to create a MuBANY community and am excited to help further expand that community. By way of my vision for MuBANY, I would like to position the organization and its online presence to serve as a central database for the broader New York Muslim legal community to source speakers and to connect community leaders and local non-profit organizations with existing resources. Secondly, MuBANY has great potential as a platform, which I would help build out, for professional networking/mentoring, relationship building and substantive programming of interest to the Muslim community and likely coalition partners. A short professional bio may be found here (http://www.pepperlaw.com/people/nilufer-r-shaikh/) and here (https://www.linkedin.com/in/nilufer-shaikh-728a3210/).
As a new Muslim lawyer and a new resident in New York City, I’d love to play an active role in MuBANY and help further the mission of the organization. I am focused, hard-working, pretty social, and alhamdulilah have a pretty broad network by virtue of having lived in SF, Chicago, and LA before moving here. I’m currently practicing restructuring at Jones Day and am a member of SABANY.
My name is Maimoona Zia, and I currently serve as counsel to an international investment bank. I served as MuBANY's Membership Chair this preceding term and am now seeking election as a director on MuBANY's board. As a Chair, I initiated and managed MuBANY's participation at the United Nations this past March. In this regard, I created a new program whereby 2 MuBANY members, who were chosen through a competitive application process, had the privilege to attend sessions of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and observe international legal and policy debates first-hand. Through attendance at this event, MuBANY representatives had the opportunity to liaise with diplomats, subject matter experts, and other non-governmental organizations to explore issues relevant to MuBANY's membership, such as women's legal rights, and provide reports to MuBANY on their observances. Further, during my time as a Chair, I also served as MuBANY's representative to a select women's leadership development event, where I gained insight into development opportunities that may be of interest to MuBANY's membership, and also participated in MuBANY's branding efforts, where I researched promotional marketing materials for the benefit of MuBANY's membership. I believe that my experiences serving as Membership Chair have prepared me well for the rigors of a director position, and if elected as a director, I will continue to (1) explore novel opportunities that may be of benefit to our membership, like the United Nations and women's development programs I noted above, and (2) advocate for the rights of MuBANY members and the larger Muslim and minority communities. I hope you will give me such an opportunity.
Recently, in advance of the Senate confirmation hearings for Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State, MuBANY and the National LGBT Bar Association sent a letter to Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand opposing the nomination. In addition, the two bar organizations oppose the nomination of Gina Haspel as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
As you may know, Senator Schumer is the Minority Leader of the Senate and previously voted in support of Pompeo to his current post as CIA Director. The letter highlights Mike Pompeo’s history of blatant anti-Muslim bigotry. Pompeo has frequently peddled anti-Muslim conspiracy theories from the floor of the House of Representatives to right-wing talk radio. Pompeo is ill-suited to be America’s lead diplomat.
During the George W. Bush Administration, Gina Haspel played a troubling role in our nation’s torture program. She operated a CIA blacksite in Thailand and then subsequently in violation of a federal court order oversaw the destruction of videos documenting the torture of detainees.
The letter further details the basis for their disqualification.
Please click here to read the full letter.
For Immediate Release:
MuBANY is proud to be the lead amici with 87 religiously affiliated organizations seeking a preliminary injunction to enjoin the Trump Administration’s termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program in New York, et al., v. Trump et. al, and Batalla Vidal v. Baran et. al, matters. Both matters are being heard by Judge Garaufis in the Eastern District of New York.
MuBANY has the unique opportunity to speak to legal issues including discrimination and equal protection. In this instance, MuBANY has taken the lead to speak on behalf of religiously affiliated institutions that find the termination of DACA to be contrary to law.
The amicus effort was spearheaded by Adeel Mangi – a former MuBANY board director and current MuBANY member. He is also a partner at Patterson Belknap, Webb & Tyler, LLP. The brief was drafted by teams at Patterson Belknap and Muslim Advocates. The brief describes why DACA is a just response to the humanitarian crisis existing with regard to undocumented individuals within the United States, and the irreparable harm that religious organizations and their congregants will face due to its termination - including how it may impact religious organizations' ability to act as sanctuary locations. The brief can be read here.
MuBANY thanks Adeel, Steven Zalesin, Zachery Kolodin, and Michael Fresco at Patterson Belknap, as well as Muslim Advocates for their efforts in assembling a compelling brief and impressive coalition in this amicus effort.
It has been announced yesterday that President Trump is ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which affects nearly 800,000 DACA recipients that will be forced to stop working and potentially leave the country. Since its inception in 2012, DACA has enabled undocumented immigrants younger than 30 who arrived in the U.S. as minors, to remain in the country and be able to work and study. Due to the program, our country has seen enormous contributions by DACA recipients as they study, work and contribute to local economies. But more importantly, DACA has empowered these recipients to come out of living in fear and pursue their dreams openly in a country that is their home. The end of DACA is a devastating blow to the immigrant community, as well as all communities that believe in the value that immigrants bring to our nation.
MuBANY is deeply disappointed in this decision and remains fearlessly committed to fighting injustice with the power of good law and good people. We join hands and hearts with our brothers and sisters in the greater immigrant communities from which we stem and which we serve. We are in communication with immigration advocates to learn exactly what this will mean for DACA recipients and their families, some of whom we all know personally.
Here is what we know so far:
Here is the link to the USCIS webpage with additional information and this fact sheet: https://www.uscis.gov/daca2017
There is much we do not know yet and we will learn more in the coming weeks. Again, we are with you in these troubling times. If you need any support, or if you are a DACA recipient or family member of a DACA recipient, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. Please know that we will do whatever we can to assist you and support you. We will also be with you in the streets fighting back.
Please see below article from the New York Law Journal featuring MuBANY Member Muhammad Faridi and MuBANY Law Firm Chair Adeel Mangi.
Click here to read the entire NY Law Journal article!
The Muslim Bar Association of New York is deeply disappointed in the decision of the Supreme Court to allow parts of President Trump’s travel ban to go into effect. While the Court’s decision purports to limit the ban’s current applicability to foreign nationals lacking any “bona fide relationship with any person or entity in the United States,” the lack of clear enforcement guidance both in the decision itself and on the ground at airports around the country, leaves the constitutional freedoms of some our community’s most vulnerable members at risk. Perhaps most troubling is the Court’s treatment of refugees, who are most likely to lack the requisite connection to the United States.
We look to the Department of Homeland Security to provide clarity to travelers both domestic and abroad, and ensure that those charged with enforcement, including consular officers and border agents, are held accountable for the type of constitutional violations which were rampant with respect to the first Executive Order and are likely to occur again now. Moreover, we, along with our allies in the legal community will, through all lawful means necessary, hold the Justice Department to its stated promise to implement the ban “professionally, with clear and sufficient public notice, particularly to potentially affected travelers, and in coordination with partners in the travel industry.”
While we believe that the Court’s decision lays the groundwork for more confusion and delay, we look forward to the oral arguments scheduled for this fall and are confident that the Court will more appropriately balance the various factors for consideration in reaching a decision that will have the potential to reshape the course of American history.
MuBANY remains fearlessly committed to fighting injustice, alongside our brothers and sisters in the greater immigrant and minority communities from which we stem and which we serve. We commend you all and thank you for your unwavering support, in your communities, at your airports, and in your day-to-day work.
MuBANY mourns the loss of Nabra Hassanen and our thoughts and prayers are with her family and community. This horrific incident hits especially close to MuBANY - as many of us have had late night suhoors with friends throughout this month - despite the backdrop of the current climate. We hope for strength for Nabra's family and community, as well as for the victims of the terrorist attack on the Finsbury Park Mosque in London - and ultimately that justice prevails for all.
- MuBANY Board
It is our pleasure to introduce our incoming MuBANY Directors and Chairs!
In-House Chair - Shabbir Chaudhury
Not for Profit/Government Chair - Sami Jameel
Social Media Chair/Webmaster - Suleman Malik
Law Firm Chair - Adeel Mangi
Member Chair - Maimoona Zia
Our sincere thanks to our outgoing Directors, Abid Hossain, Sabila Khan, Merium Malik, and Adeel Mangi.
Get to know the candidates running to serve as directors on the MuBANY Board for the 2017/2018 term. We have 6 candidates running for the 5 open positions. Take a moment to read the candidate statements below.
Please make sure your MuBANY membership is up to date. All members that are current in their dues will receive voting instructions.
Best of luck to all the candidates!
My name is Ali Alsarraf and I am an associate in the litigation department of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.
MuBANY plays a leading role in supporting American Muslim civic engagement, giving a voice to American Muslims within the legal field, and forging connections both within the Muslim legal community and across other legal communities. This past year, I actively engaged with MuBANY’s board to support these goals. In December, I helped organize and hosted at my firm a post-election panel titled “The Election is Over: How did we get here? What’s next?” with MuBANY, AABANY, and SABANY. In March, I hosted at my firm a panel titled “Why Black Lives Matter to Muslims” organized by MuBANY, the NY Civil Liberties Union, and the Metropolitan Black Bar Association. If elected to MuBANY’s board, I will continue these efforts to attempt to shed light on important topics concerning the American Muslim community.
I am also passionate about issues related to diversity and inclusion, particularly in the legal field. As a co-chair of my firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee, I created a Muslim Affinity Group and a Religious Observance Affinity Group. I also created and spearhead a monthly book club where we read and discuss books and articles concerning diversity and inclusion, such as Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists.
In addition to being an excellent forum to learn about diversity and inclusion, the book club gives associates a much-needed outlet to discuss issues related to diversity in a safe space. If elected to MuBANY’s board, I would like to organize a similar program for MuBANY members. I would also like to devote efforts to increasing diversity and inclusion in MuBANY’s membership.
MuBANY has also played an important and leading role in the defense of the American Muslim community in the wake of the new administration. As an active participant in the fight against the “Muslim ban,” I can further MuBANY’s efforts in that space. I joined the hundreds of lawyers who flocked to airports to protect the civil liberties of American Muslims, and I led two Know Your Rights programs with the Somali community and a youth organization in Harlem. Notwithstanding the dark times ushered in by the new administration, I have been very proud and inspired to see the new relationships built across communities and our community’s renewed civic engagement.
I hope to further support our community’s renewed engagement and am very excited to continue my work with MuBANY.
Salaam, my name is Shabbir Chaudhury and I have previously served as a MuBANY director in 2015 and 2016. I hope you will give me your vote for Director; I look forward to serving the community again.
During my previous terms as Director, I helped revamp MuBANY's logo and website, and increase MuBANY's use of digital and social media. If elected as Director, I hope to continue efforts to increase MuBANY's digital presence. Additionally, I hope to build on past efforts to increase MuBANY's member roll and partner with new and diverse bar associations to create relevant and exciting programming for the organization.
With regard to my professional background, I am currently a Corporate Counsel at MetLife, focusing on litigation and regulatory business risks. Prior to that, I worked at the NYC Law Department as an Assistant Corporation Counsel where I defended the City against tort claims.
MuBANY has developed itself into a respectable institution within the communities it engages. Over the past few years, the organization has become known as a voice for Muslim people in New York. I would like to continue building upon that tradition and help MuBANY and its members progress further. It is with that intent and purpose that I would like to serve as a Director for MuBANY.
My name is Amin Kassam and I am Senior Counsel at Bloomberg L.P. , where I focus on litigating and advising on issues relating to new media, technology, privacy, and intellectual property. I am also a member of Bloomberg’s Diversity Council and the Diversity Champion for Our Legal Department.
As an attorney for the past sixteen years, I often spent much of my time practicing as one of the first or only Muslim lawyers at the law firms and federal clerkships where I started my career. Living through 9-11 without the support of a community of Muslim lawyers was lonely and challenging. Over time, I have watched MUBANY grow and flourish and provide our community tremendous opportunities to come and work together. It has inspired me to put forward my candidacy for a position on the MUBANY Board of Directors.
Throughout my career, I have worked to help and support the rights of Muslims and other minority groups. For seven years, I served on the National Board of the Aga Khan Conciliation and Arbitration Board helping to provide free mediation services to Ismaili Muslims throughout the country. More recently, I was elected to the Board of Directors of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) which has worked tirelessly to protect the rights of Muslim Americans and other marginalized communities.
At a time when the rights of Muslims in the United States are under tremendous threat, I believe that it is critical that we build coalitions and draw upon allies in order to support all of our efforts to protect the civil rights of Americans. We can only move forward by working together. This is what inspired me to organize and lead a difficult but important joint discussion sponsored by MUBANY, NYCLU, and the Metropolitan Black Bar Association entitled “Why Black Lives Matter to Muslims.” If elected, I hope to continue to create programs and initiatives that build bridges across communities while further enhancing diversity and inclusion within MUBANY.
My name is Sania Khan, and I am running for a Director position with MuBANY for the 2017-2018 term. I am an Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Bureau at the New York State Attorney General’s (“AG”) Office, and serve as the Muslim Communities Liaison for the Office. My work in these roles has focused primarily on the travel ban (“Muslim ban”) litigation and generally working on the Office's Religious Rights Initiative. Additionally, in 2015, I created a CLE entitled “The Muslim-American Community: An Introduction to the Basics of Islamic Practices and Relevant Emerging Legal Trends,” which was attended and webcast state-wide to hundreds of attorneys from the AG’s Office, as well as employees from 23 New York State agencies. The CLE was also held at the New York City Bar Association, and was co-sponsored by MuBANY.
I have been a member of MuBANY since 2011, and have had the privilege of seeing MuBANY become a pillar of the legal community in New York. If given the opportunity to serve as a Director, I would further these efforts by focusing on activating untapped networks, some of which may even exist within the membership of MuBANY, to create diverse alliances and events. I would also focus on developing MuBANY’s role as an educational resource for both Muslim and non-Muslim attorneys and entities throughout New York. And to the extent possible, I would aid MuBANY’s engagement with the public sector.
I intend to be resourceful and dedicated in executing this vision. Thank you for your consideration.
I'm Nausheen Rokerya, Associate General Counsel, Labor & Employment at Visiting Nurse Service of New York, and I invite you to re-elect me to the MuBANY Board as a Director. Having served on the Board this year and cultivated my relationships both inside and outside of the organization, I believe I can expand my contributions this coming year in the following ways:
This year, I served on the host committee for MuBANY's second annual Gala & Awards Reception and assisted with various aspects of coordinating a highly successful event. I believe the Gala presents a significant opportunity for MuBANY to garner greater visibility in the region. If re-elected, I will bring my working knowledge of what has worked well in the past, and reflect on constructive feedback received. I will work to ensure that the Gala continues to provide a return on investment for MuBANY's members.
Through my work on this year's Eid Social and Gala, I have established relationships with other minority bar associations in the region that I intend to utilize to help our members grow their networks. MuBANY members stand to directly benefit from such expanded opportunities via invitations to events hosted by other organizations, and the ability to have a voice at discussions on topics affecting our communities. I believe that active engagement with other bar organizations and communities is critical, especially in these unprecedented political times. I will advocate for our continued collaboration with the broader legal community.
In addition to continuing to provide support on key events in the year to come and facilitating MuBANY's relationships with other bar associations/communities, I also look forward to launching the below two initiatives:
I will help revitalize MuBANY's existing formal mentorship program, as well as help foster organic relationships by connecting members with others both inside and outside of the organization. This year, I took an important step toward being able to implement this program by taking an inventory of and reviewing our current membership details to better understand our makeup as an organization.
As a graduate of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, I am well connected to attorneys (on both sides of the table) and HR executives across industries, in both the public and private sectors. This year, I gauged our membership's interest in coordinating a practice group for labor and employment practitioners and coordinated and informal meet 'n' greet dinner. This year, I would like to develop this initial gathering into a more structured group, arrange regular sessions for dialogue, and eventually, panel discussions. I look forward to creating a practice group model that others can implement with respect to other practice/interest areas.
I look forward to the opportunity to serve MuBANY once again as a Director, and would greatly appreciate your vote. Thank you.
My name is Nafees Syed and I’d be honored to serve on the MuBANY board as a Director. Here are a few ideas I'd love to work on --
I’m currently an associate at Boies, Schiller & Flexner and previously worked on Capitol Hill. I graduated from Yale Law and Harvard University.
Thanks for your consideration, and I hope I can count on your vote!
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